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119: The Talk

A Thousand Things to Talk About
119: The Talk
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Do you (or did you) talk to your parents about sex?

Show notes and links:
Half of All Teens Feel Uncomfortable Talking to Their Parents About Sex While Only 19 Percent of Parents Feel the Same, New Survey Shows (Planned Parenthood)
Parents’ Sex Talk with Kids: Too Little, Too Late (Time)
Why Parents Should Have the ‘Sex Talk’ With Their Children (The New York Times)
Sexual communication between early adolescents and their dating partners, parents, and best friends. (PubMed Commons)
Survey: Parents and Kids Attached at the Hip and Pocketbook (ABC News)


Full episode text

The talk. That sometimes mythical discussion of the Birds and the Bees that is supposed to be very uncomfortable, and usually quite overwhelming for everyone involved. And statistically, it’s a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, a single conversation is better than nothing. And most parents feel like they are having some kind of conversation – at least according to most surveys. One 2009 survey found that 92 percent of parents talked with their children about relationships, and 87 percent felt that they had shared with their kids their personal values about when sex should and shouldn’t take place.

However, the more detailed and complicated, the less parents approach the topic. Only 74 percent of parents shared with their kids about how to actually say no to sex, and only 60 percent discussed birth control. A 2013 study found that nearly 2 in 3 teens felt that their parents hadn’t talked with them about sexual topics.

Part of that parental and child disconnect is highlighted in a 2012 survey, which found that while 42 percent of parents said they’d talked to their teens “many times” about how to say no to sex, only 27 percent of the same teens agreed with that statement.

All told, this adds up to 40 percent of adolescents who have had intercourse before they felt their parents had talked to them about it.

Yet study after study also finds that the teens whose parents talk to them about sex and sexual topics more regularly are actually less likely to feel pressured into sex and more likely to engage in safe sex if and when they do.

Statistics also say that adult children are staying in closer contact with their parents than ever before – including about topics of sex and sexuality. Most experts agree that the “sex talk” shouldn’t be a single talk, but should instead be an open dialogue that is age-appropriate. Was that your experience, or do you wish it had been?